Musing about the idiom “domestic voilence”

I recently was told that every fourth woman in Germany has experienced violence in a domestic setting.

This seems to be almost common knowledge since the Ministry for Women created a poster campaign. I don’t think a lot of people could say how many men experience violence, domestic or otherwise. There is no Ministry for Men.

I was interested in a) how did they find this number? and b) what constitutes “violence”. As usual hardly anyone claiming something reveals the source. After some googling I found it: a report by the Robert Koch Institue, Berlin “Health Consequences of Violence, with special consideration of Domestic Violence against Women”.

The most important source of the report is a survey by the Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend. According to the report of the RKI the only scientific venture into the topic to date.

They interviewed a large sample of women between 16 and 85, asking them if they had ever experienced violence. Since “violence” is a flexible term this was followed by more precise questions.


  • pushed me angrily
  • gave me a light slap
  • bit ro scratched me in a way that made me unconfortable or afraid
  • turned my arm in a way that made me unconfortable
  • kicked or pushed me in a hurtful way or touched me roughly
  • pushed me in a way that made me stumble or fall
  • slapped me roughly
  • threw something at me that might have hurt me
  • hit me with something that might have hurt me
  • seriously threatened me to attack me
  • seriously threatened me to kill me
  • hit me with fists in a way that hurt or made me afraid
  • beat me up
  • throttled me or tried to suffocate me
  • scalded me
  • theatened me with a weapon like a knife or a gun
  • hurt me with a weapon like a knife or a gun
  • physically attacked me in another way that made me afraid or hurt

In other words, an old woman who thinks she remembers being pushed once sixty years ago is a sample for “one in four”.

So far I find no explanation in the report for the dynamics behind the incidents. “How did you get into that situation where your partner slapped you?” is not asked.

The solution is not: How can we educate women* to avoid situations that create violence? But: How can we take the violence out of men or failing that criminalize them?

* This should be “people” but the Ministry for Women is not interested in the wellbeing of men, only in the protection of women.


I find this report especially interesting since I myself would be a perpetrator in that survey. Twice.

You would be hard pressed to find a more non-violent boyfriend than me in my twens. But I was guilty of two idiocies: I thought discussions were meant to follow logical arguments and I was Mister Save a Troubled Girl.

I remember two occasions were I got into a discussion with the then girlfriends who where, in retrospect, probably borderline. So I argued logically, trying to make a reasonably case of what I thought, trying to make sense of the statements of my opposite and failing miserably.

I remember despairing at the sense of futility. I wanted to make sense and create understanding. The girl (obviously) only wanted to create emotion. Which after a long time she got in the form of anger. What else can there be after a discussion like that. So I threw something, a glass IIRC, into some corner of the room. Definitely not the corner of the room she was sitting in but years later she may well remember the situation as “threw something at me that might have hurt me”.


Another example is Sean Connery who said in an interview “If you have tried everything else; she wanted the last word and you gave her the last word but she is not satisfied and pushes you further, yeah, then I think it is right [to slap her]”.


Heartiste quotes a report that says:

Research finds women feel happy when their husband or partner is upset.

The detailed study found that wives or girlfriends were pleased when their partner showed emotion because they believed it demonstrated a healthy relationship.

The survey, carried out by Harvard Medical School, also found that when men realised their wife was angry, the women reported being happier, although the men were not.

It revealed women most likely enjoyed spotting when their partner was dissatisfied because it showed his strong “engagement” or “investment” in their time together.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many of the Domestic Violence reports are simply Woman-wants-drama gone wrong?


The Home Office in the UK comes to the same conclusion “One in four”, also counting pushes and minor slaps. You’ll find a good take on how things are more complicated than “Poor girl” here.
Good quote: “In general, men don’t get physical with women. For the same reason they don’t get physical with squirrels. Why would they?”

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